Tips on How to Build Muscles and Gain Lean Weight

If you want to gain some serious muscles and weight, check out today's tips and start using them in your daily life

When you are trying to increase muscles and weight, it is important to have the right training and diet concepts and attitude. Now, make yourself comfortable, read the 6 tips below, and save yourself some costly mistakes.

  1. Eat Frequent Small Meals

    As thin people tend to feel full easily, break up your daily 3 square meals into 5, preferably 6 small meals a day. The idea is to get you to munch on food every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day. Your daily food schedule will therefore look something like this:

    8:00 am Breakfast

    10:00 am Tea break

    12:30 pm Lunch

    3:00 pm Tea Break

    6:00 pm Dinner

    8:30 pm Light supper

    This way of eating will not only supply your body with a continuous supply of calories and essential nutrients for muscle building, it will also be less taxing for your stomach than taking 3 large meals.

    Bonus Tip: Not every meal has to be solid foods. You can also take self-concocted or off-the-shelf smoothies, protein shakes, or meal-replacement drinks. If you do buy off-the-shelf supplements, make sure you choose the quality products that aren't fill with sugars and useless fillers. Whenever possible, choose whole foods over supplements.

  2. Choose Nutritious and Calorie-Dense Food

    The rationale is simple. Since you can't eat a lot in one sitting, make sure that the small amount that you do put in your mouth counts a lot. To do that, you need not just nutritious foods, but also foods that are relatively high in calories.

    These include avocados, lean chicken breasts, salmons, nuts, dried fruits like raisins, concentrated fruit juices, sweet potatoes, potatoes and brown rice.

    But, this doesn't mean that you don't eat green fibrous vegetables just because they are lower in calories. You still need them for their fibers and their crucial supply of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. And you should include them in every meal. However, make the calorie-dense foods your centerpieces in your meals instead.

    Beware of high calorie but nutritiously empty foods. Most highly processed and convenience foods like pastries, cookies, snacks, desserts and fast foods, are either full of fat, sugars or both. They will make you gain weight all right, but only in the form of body fat that accumulates around your waist, thigh and backside. Such weight gain has been shown in many studies to increase your risk of chronic diseases (think diabetes and stroke) and cancers. This is not what the type of weight we want to gain here. So, limit them, or better, avoid them as much as you can.

    Bonus Tip: Fill up your plate with quality calorie-dense foods first, then supplement with other nutritious foods with lower calorie density like greens.

  3. Wake Up Your Muscles

    Without any stimulus, your muscles will not grow no matter how much quality foods you chow down. Simple as that.

    So you must provide the reason for your muscles to use the foods you eat to grow bigger and stronger. By weight training of course!

    Assuming you are a beginner and is weight training correctly, you're likely to see some results in the first couple of months. You'll gain some muscles and weight, and your appetite may even increase. But, beyond that, your gain will start to slow and even plateau. Why is this so?

    The reason being your muscles smarten up pretty quickly. Over time, they get used to the same stresses that you have placed on them and become lazy. In order to 'wake them up', you'll need to put them under greater stresses, or loads, which they are not accustomed to. This is known as the overloading principle.

    There are many ways to do that, including changing the exercises you perform, increasing the weights you carry, or mixing up the number of repetitions or sets you perform. The point is to keep your muscles always on their toes, so that they don't 'fall asleep'.

    Without question, regardless of how you creatively tax your muscles, you must always do it safely without causing any injuries to yourself.

    Bonus Tip: Switch your weight training routines every 4 weeks to keep your muscles guessing and to prevent yourself from getting bored.

  4. Incorporate Compound Exercises into Your Routine

    Compound exercises, like Squats, Bench Presses, Deadlifts, Shoulder Presses, Chin Ups and Dips, are those that involve several groups of muscles. They usually involve the large muscles and hence, are effective if you wish to see some serious muscle and weight gain.

    But, the good news is, they are also effective in building the smaller muscle groups, so that you don't have to devote a lot of time doing isolated exercises like Biceps Curls and Leg Raises.

    Bonus Tip: Always perform the compound exercises first as they are more demanding.

  5. Give Your Muscles the Rest They Deserve

    Isn't this contradicting the point about working the muscles hard so that they will grow? No, not at all. The important thing to understand and fully digest into your system is that, muscles don't grow in the gym. They don't grow when you are working out. Yes, they seem to swell and appear bigger, but that's because of the blood getting locked inside the muscle tissues. After your workout, they deflate like balloons.

    Muscles only grow when you are sleeping. Deep sleep to be exact. That's when your body carries out the all-important functions of recovering, healing and building, besides dreaming.

    When you are pumping iron in the gym, you are essentially tearing your muscle tissues apart by brute force, telling your body that the existing muscles are not strong enough to do the job. This forces your body to build new muscles to meet the new demand. And this repair and build process is carried out when you are resting.

    How much is enough? It varies. Some survive well on 6 hours, while some need at least 8 hours a day in order to feel afresh. The best way to determine how long a rest you need is to ask your own body. Experiment by waking up on your own without using an alarm clock (have a contingency plan in case you overslept!). Let your natural circadian cycle wakes you up. Keep track of the number of hours you sleep each day for about 2 weeks and you'll see a pattern emerging.

    Related to this point about giving your muscles enough rest, you should allow 2 or more days for your muscles to recover fully before starting the next training. The reasons are explained in my earlier post Have you bought into these weight room myths? Part 2, point 1, so I shan't repeat here.

    Bonus Tip: Give your muscles a light touch. Those that still feel sore are not ready for the gym. Either train other parts that have recovered, which may be tough if you do predominantly compound movements, or rest for another day or two.

  6. Train Till You Drop

    This point has also been highlighted in point 3 of my earlier post Have you bought into these weight room myths? Part 1.

    Basically, this point means training to muscle failure. What do I mean by that, you ask? Muscle failure is the point when you can no longer complete a single repetition. That is the time when you are sending a clear-cut signal to your body: these muscle can't cut it. All the repetitions before this one last crucial rep are merely warming up and preparing you to reach this stage. Needless to say, if you don't reach this point, your muscles have no reasons to grow and you are just wasting your time.

    Bonus Tip: Don't be obsessed with the number of repetitions or sets you perform. Concentrate on reaching the point of no return -- muscle failure, that is!

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